Dare County, N.C. – Captain Sam Stokes is just one of many who depends on the Oregon Inlet. But over and over again, shoaling has kept boaters and fishermen, like Stokes, from doing their jobs, if the inlet is open at all.
“What used to be our biggest problem was going fishing and catching fish for our group. Now, our biggest problem is just getting to the sea buoy without hitting or tearing something up,” said Stokes.
Although the Oregon Inlet has been dredged several times and local groups have voiced their concerns to leaders, there has been no solution to fix the problem until now, at least that’s what a provision in the budget bill passed by the North Carolina state Senate hopes to do.
“The goal is for a reliable, stable, open inlet,” said Bobby Outten, Dare County attorney and manager.
The bill, passed by the state Senate May 23, was created so the state of North Carolina can acquire and gain control of the Oregon Inlet. Right now, the federal government owns the inlet.
The bill also calls for the creation of a 13 member Oregon Inlet Land Acquisition Task Force “for the purpose of determining, reviewing, and considering the State’s options for acquiring the federal government’s right, title, and interest in Oregon Inlet and the real property adjacent thereto, including submerged lands,” among other duties.
“When the inlet closes, we have problems. You’re scrambling to get dredge money, so somewhow, to make that inlet reliable, to keep that economy that it generates going is important. And that’s a step in that direction, by somehow gaining control of the land,” said Outten.
Outten says this is the first time a statewide group has been appointed to come up with a solution for the inlet.
Now that the bill has passed in the state Senate, it now has to go to the House.